Microaggressions in Medicine
In a world that too often marginalizes people based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, body size, or disability, medicine can often be no different. Far from “doing no harm,” it treats some patients unfairly, leading to detrimental effects. Guided by diverse patient testimonies and case studies, Microaggressions in Medicine focuses on the harms that such patients face. It amplifies their voices, stories, and experiences, which have too-often been excluded from mainstream bioethical, medical, and popular discussions. Microaggressions in medicine are not rare, but frequent in the healthcare experiences of marginalized patients. Recognizing this can help patients better understand and make sense of their experiences. As bioethicists Lauren Freeman and Heather Stewart argue, building such an awareness can also help current and future healthcare professionals recognize the serious and enduring consequences that microaggressions have on their patients. Freeman and Stewart offer practical strategies for healthcare professionals to reduce microaggressions in their practices.
The harms of microaggressions are anything but micro. Healthcare professionals have a moral obligation to prevent them as much as possible. Health equity can be achieved, but only through first recognizing the harm caused by microaggressions in medical contexts. Shining a light on microaggressions in medicine and offering concrete ways for health professionals to avoid them in the future will make a positive difference in the lives of marginalized patients as they interact with medical institutions and practitioners. All patients deserve high quality, patient-centered care but healthcare professionals must change their practices in order to achieve such equity.